April 8, 2021 11:10:57 pm
The results of the elections to the municipal corporations have come as morale booster for the Congress, which by securing a clear majority in two of the civic bodies, has registered a significant win in any election in the state after a long gap of eight years.
The party lost power to the BJP in the state in the 2017 Assembly elections, lost all four Lok Sabha seats in both the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, and also lost various byelections held during this period. Recently, the BJP-led government decided to hold the municipal corporation elections on party symbols, paving the way for the Congress to make a comeback in the state’s political arena.
“A tree, which was being said to be drying, has started budding,” said Himachal Congress chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore Thursday, congratulating his party workers for the “great victory”.
Four out of five MCs in the state went to polls on Wednesday, and the Congress secured a majority in Solan and Palampur, winning in 11 out of 15 wards in the latter. The BJP made a similar clean sweep in Mandi and emerged as the single largest party in Dharamshala, where it fell one short of majority but is confident of getting the support of an independent councillor.
A Virbhadra Singh-led Congress remained in power in the state from 2012 to 2017 after winning 36 out of 68 Assembly seats, and also won the 2013 Lok Sabha byelection in Mandi after Singh quit as an MP to become the chief minister.
The next year, however, saw the beginning of the party’s losing streak. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP emerged victorious in all four parliamentary constituencies of the state, with former CM Shanta Kumar winning by an impressive margin of 1.70 lakh votes in Kangra. The BJP also won a simultaneously held Vidhan Sabha byelection to Sujanpur by a narrow margin.
In the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP came to power in the state by winning 44 out of 68 seats, and also won a byelection in Bhoranj.
The saffron party further consolidated its position in the 2019 parliamentary elections, polling 67 to 73 per cent votes in all four constituencies and getting the maximum votes in each of the 68 Assembly segments. It also won both the Assembly byelections held in Dharamshala and Pachhad held that year. In fact, in the Dharamshala bypoll, the Congress candidate lost his security deposit.
Before 2015, Shimla was the only municipal corporation in the state, and had remained a Congress stronghold since its inception. But in 2017, BJP-backed candidates won a majority for the first time in the city’s history although the elections were not officially held on party symbols.
The latest municipal poll results have come as a breather for the Himachal unit of Congress, which has also been battling factionalism within its ranks.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur downplayed the Congress’s performance in a press conference held Thursday. “They must not get too enthusiastic. We accept the results and will evaluate them but the MC elections were based on very small and local issues and will have no impact on the upcoming bye-polls or assembly polls,” he said.
An optimistic Rathore, however, said that the Congress has outdone the BJP by winning in 29 out of 64 wards in the four cities as compared to BJP’s 28 wards. “The message of our victory will resound throughout the country,” he claimed.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.